by O. S David



by Amy Friedman and Meredith Johnson

Once upon a time a young man named Alemu decided it was time that he marry, but he looked around his village and saw no one he fancied. So he set off in search of a bride.

Alemu headed toward the mountains. The landscape became rockier and full of bushes, prime hiding places for lions, and Alemu was very afraid of lions. Suddenly he stopped in his tracks. He heard a noise. Was it a lion’s roar? The sound terrified him, and he whirled around and ran as fast as he could toward the open country.

He came to a large, open pasture and stopped to catch his breath. Amid a sea of grazing sheep, he saw a shepherdess. The moment Alemu saw her, he fell in love. He waded through the flock of sheep and introduced himself.

Now Alemu was handsome and funny, and before long the young woman, whose name was Nebiat, was charmed. She was a simple girl, beautiful, diligent and warm-hearted, and the longer the two young people talked, the more convinced Alemu became that she must be his bride. And soon Alemu had persuaded Nebiat to take him to meet her father.

Nebiat’s father was pleased when Alemu asked to marry his daughter; the young man seemed a good match. Before long the two married, and together they returned to Alemu’s village.

At first all was well, but soon Nebiat realized her husband, for all his good qualities, was a lazy man. All day long she cooked and cleaned, mended clothes and worked in the garden, and meanwhile Alemu grew lazier and fatter.

One day Nebiat had had enough. She woke her husband from his afternoon nap. “Alemu,” she pleaded, “come help me with the chores. Together our work will take half as much time and effort.”

Alemu laughed. “I’m napping,” he said, and rolled over.


This was too much for Nebiat. She thought she might explode. Then she let out a piercing scream.

Alemu sat bolt upright. “What? What’s wrong?” he cried, but Nebiat did not answer him. She continued to scream.

“Stop! I’ll help with the chores,” Alemu exclaimed, and he frantically began to wash the pots, but this did nothing to stop Nebiat’s wails. She simply screamed louder.

“What can I do to stop you?” Alemu begged, but Nebiat would not answer. She only screamed some more.

Alemu tried to calm his wife, but it was no use. All night long she wailed, and in desperation the next morning, Alemu ran to the village healer to seek a cure.

When the healer heard of Alemu’s troubles, he nodded. “I can cure your problem,” he said, “but I will need the hair from the tail of a lion first. Fetch that and I will brew your cure.”

Naturally Alemu was terrified of the task, given his fear of lions, but he had to cure his wife. And so he bravely walked to the mountains, and when he heard a lion’s roar, he did not run. Instead, his heart pounding, he hid behind a nearby tree, and for many hours he watched for a lion to come in sight. Just before nightfall, he placed a jar of milk he carried in his sack upon the ground not far from a cave he guessed was the lion’s lair.

Early the next day Alemu returned to the spot to discover that the milk was gone. This time Alemu crept closer still and watched as a lioness came out of her den. He followed her as she chased monkeys, napped and enjoyed her day. When she had fallen asleep, Alemu came very close and placed a brick of cheese before her.

Then he ran home — where Nebiat continued to scream.

On the third day Alemu carried meat to the lioness’s lair, and this time when she began to roar, he simply walked forward, bowed and said, “Good morning. I’ve brought you more food,” and held it out to her.


The lioness walked slowly forward and carefully examined the meat. Then she took it, and Alemu reached out and stroked her fur.

The lion did not roar. Instead Alemu heard a sound very much like a purr coming from deep inside her. So on the fourth day when he arrived, he did not even bother to hide. Instead he walked boldly forward, offered his gift, and by afternoon the two were fast friends.

This went on for several more days. Each day Alemu brought a gift for his new friend, and by the end of that week, he would lie comfortably against her to nap. And so at long last, on the seventh day, Alemu asked, “May I have a hair from your tail? I need it to cure my wife of a terrible illness.”

The lioness let Alemu pluck a hair from her tail, and with it in hand, he raced back to his village. He knocked on the door of the healer. “Look! I have the lion’s hair. We became friends, and she gave this to me without a word of complaint. Now, please make the cure for my wife.”

The healer smiled. “Alemu,” he said, “you have the cure in the palm of your hands.”

Alemu looked down at the hair from the lioness’s tail. “I don’t understand,” he said.

“My son, just as you learned how to become a friend to the lion, you must learn to be a friend to your wife. Go home and treat her with as much kindness and gentleness as you treated the lion, and Nebiat will never again scream.”
And Alemu found this to be so.

Source: uexpressORY)


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